Joshua Tree National Park
Day 2

City people are crazy!

232 miles

[Sunday - March 2, 2008]

Last night was insane in terms of wind.  When Minh and I went out to lock out our bikes, we were tossed around like we're in a hurricane.  I swear it must have gusted at about 70-80MPH.  Fortunately the buildings blocked the majority of the wind.  If we were in an open area, our bikes would have fallen over.

Is this good enough?

The first thing I did this morning is to peer out of the window to check on the conditions.  Has the win died down?  Yes it did.  However, the tree tops weren't stationary.  It is still swaying around moderately.  Hopefully it won't be as bad as yesterday's ride to Indio.

"Let load up the bikes and go get some breakfast," barked the Captain.  Sure, we can do that.  I rummage around the room and pack up all of my electronics.  Check, double check, and triple check.  I don't want to leave any chargers behind.  All clear.  I haul the bags out and plop them on the bike.  Yes, last nights wind has dusted our bikes pretty good.  We have a fine layer of sand all over the bikes.  No matter, the sand is hardly anything compared to the amount bugs on our windshield and headlight.  Tug this, click that, and we're all done.  Again, we can't help but notice the genuineness and openness of the staff at this Best Western.  The rooms are also very clean.  It's a good thing.

Awesome coat hangers.

Suffice to say, I'm not going to have a problem booking at Best Westerns in the future.  There is plenty of things to pick and choose with the complementary continental break fast, but first thing is first.  Where's the coffee.  European blend and a little French vanilla cream to boot.  Nice!

 A simple breakfast for a simple life.  Simplicity at its best.

That looks like a mighty fat arshe you got there.

I drop off the keys at the front desk, collect my receipts, and waved goodbye to the Hotel.  It's a memorable stay even for just one night.  Now I know what to expect and will book directly with the hotel instead of going through some other third party.

Part 2, we need fuel to start off the day.  As we're getting knocked around I can't help but notice the sand storms in the distance.  Why do we always have to deal with sand storms every time we go ride in the direction of a desert?  This sucks.  It looks like the 12K maintenance is going to happen early.  Sure enough, we make a left hand turn away from our route and smack, we're in the thick of it all.  Yup!  The sand is whipping around like we're in a snow storm.  Oh well.  We are where we are and we have to deal with it.

As we're doubling back on the route we took coming in to Indio yesterday to get to North Shore at the Salton Sea., we're being kicked around once more.  The only exception is it's in day light this time around.  So much for not having to deal with the wind today.  Of course the drivers are all insane.  At one point we get passed by a Suburban doing 80 MPH in this wind.  Just don't roll otherwise it's going to hurt.

Approximately 15 miles later, we're at North Shore.  What's this?  It's all boarded up.  I've heard reports of the Salton Sea being deserted but never have I anticipated that it's going to be a ghost town.

Can you see me now?

We wander around a bit looking at the abandon buildings until I found a spot that leads us right to the water front.  Since it's all deserted I don't think anybody is going to care that we're riding right down to the beach.  Voi la!  Instant off roading on a R12R and a Blackbird.

Peace be with you... always.  Or was that the force?

It's a sea alright.  There's no mistaking the smell of salt water and ... fish.  I'm so awe inspired that I disconnect from the bike and take off towards more interesting sights.  As I walk out to the little lagoon I thought I was on beautiful white sands.  When I finally look down, I'm shocked.  This isn't white sand.  It's a beach of the dead.  All this white is because of dead sea creatures.  Crustations and shells that have washed up on shore after they've died.  Definitely not a beach for soft soled people.  You won't catch me walking bare feet in this place.  Crunch! crunch! crunch ...

Wandering around shooting video of the place.

This sea is also full of life.  There are birds everywhere and dead fish litter the beach.  I can tell some of the fishes died recently.  Most likely due to the birds.  Other fishes look like they've died and simply washed up on shore.

Here are some sad looking specimens.

Fish to scale.

Up to our ankles with dead sea creatures.

I don't know if the Captain realizes it or not but he is going down with the sub.

Did the astronomers and cosmologist think to also count all of dead animals on all the beaches in addition to the grains of sand when they thought about the stars in the universe?  Probably not but there sure is a lot of life on this planet.

Having spent our fair share of time trampling on the carcasses of dead sea animals, we head over to have a look at the abandon motel.  We should have booked our one night stay here.  The accommodations are questionable but the price is right.  However, I wouldn't be caught out here at night without at least a 45 at my side.

While we're taking our gear off getting ready to tour the premises, we are suddenly confronted with attack dogs charging our way.  While they appear extremely threatening, we fought back and and held our ground.

The Captain is trying to convince the attack dogs that we're not a threat.

Watch out or they'll take out your heals.

Once we plotted our escape route and managed to fight our way out of the situation, we scouted out the rest of the area.  Interesting to say the least.  This place has been abandoned for a while.  Perhaps since the 60s.  It's still not that far back in the past.  About 40 years or so and mother nature has taken over again.  The break down has started.  Nothing like a bit of chaos to dismantle order.

Let's go in and check out our room...

It's a ghost town but not completely deserted.  There are several mobile homes in the area.  Oddly enough, people still want to live out here.  Once we've had our fill of the modern ghost town, we head off to have a look at Joshua Tree National Park.

Man this stuff is deep.

Talking about being in a rut ...

How deep am I?  Oh whatever...

A trip wouldn't be complete if the Captain didn't have a "middle of the road" shot.

Glamor shot.

You shoot me...

... I shoot you.

Box Canyon is a beautiful road.  The blooms around this time of year definitely adds to the entire experience.  A retrospective thought has me thinking that Box Canyon is more interesting than most of Joshua Tree National Park.  When we got out of the interesting parts, the rest looks like like a Californian desert.  Typical.  The south gate of Joshua Tree National Park.  It's freaking cold!  Two layers underneath the moto jacket is definitely not enough.  I throw on a fleece pullover for good measure.

This is what the hubbub is all about.

The first think to greet us as we enter the park is a field of beautiful blooms.

Having had our fill of smelling the fauna, we continue on and eventually reach the ranger station.  We pay our entrance fees, and I grab a handful of souvenirs for myself and the family.  The cold is there but the wind is the thing to worry about.  Even one of the other visitors commented, "Not a good day for a ride, Huh?"  Definitely an understatement, but what can you do except to keep plugging away.  While we're standing around talking to some folks, rag doll!  The Captain even lost his entrance pass when he attempted to take it out of his pocket to slap it on the windshield.  The minute the zipper opened, Woosh!  The wind ripped the receipt out of his pocket and contributed the receipt as part of the desert's composting program.  Now the Captain has to plow back into the stations to ask for another receipt otherwise he's going to pay double.  He receives a second hand written receipt so now he's legal.  We continue and it's slow going.  Why?  Because the park's posted limits are 25, 35, or 40.  I like to visit national parks but does it have to be so painful?  Even 55 MPH would be nice.

We keep "movin' movin'".  The mercury rises and drops.  For the most part it is drops.  The further north we go, the farther down it falls.  At one point, the bike registers 49.1 degrees.  With this good wind chill we're easily riding in 24 degrees.  For all you arctic people out there, you're probably mumbling something to the effect,  "... that is a nice summer temperature".  Well, I'm not from the arctic and am from the land of forever sunshine, LA, so it's cold to me.  On top of that, the rude cars drivers refuse to use the pull outs to let us pass.  What can you say?  Yosemite all over again.  Common courtesy is in short supply these days.

Amazing!  People are so rude.  Just because a particular scenic area, Cholla Cactus Garden, is crowded, people are fighting one another, like cats and dogs, over parking spaces.  Minh and I are waiting for one car to pull out before we can begin to back in.  As we are about ready to pull in to park, a car dives into our spot.  It happens again and again.  Wow!  Why the need for rudeness?  Everybody will eventually get a spot.  One blue Chrysler PT Cruiser decides to dive into our spot and hogs up two spaces.  The nerve.  If there ever is a time for karma to kick these people's arshes, this is a perfectly good time.  I was on the verge of leaving when Minh finally found a spot.

OK.  With all these prickly things all over the place and Minh being camera less because he's out of batteries, what do you think he's going to concoct to keep himself amused?  What else.  He decides to make the ultimate motorcycle clothing test.  If you just stare at the image immediately above, I think you get the idea.  Can the thick hide of his Coretech suit handle the pricklies?  Will it get pass the slickness of a cow's once ever sensitive hide and give the Captain a good jab in the whatever?  The question was posed and I thought he was going to get pricked.  Of course he doesn't think so.  What's the answer?  Nada...  Zippo...  Zilcho...  How disappointing.  Nothing happened to him.  All those signs at the entrance to the walk path screamed massive hemorrhaging if anybody so much as look in the direction of these things.  Well, not quite that bad, but all these pricklies did nothing to Minh.  I guess it's a testimony to the motorcycle clothing people.  Then again, he wasn't using all that much force.  I'm sure if the entire weight of his body were to press down on one of these things, things might turn out different, but that's alright.  I don't want to spend time pulling out needle after needle while the Captain screams at the top of his lungs.  Then again, that might be interesting after all.

Test 1?

Here's a good spot to camp out if you want some security when sleeping.

While we're gearing up, several vultures are circling above head.  They're just waiting to pounce even when the body is still warm.  Sure enough, we back out and here they come.  Nice little scenic spot rude bunch of people.  We slowly continue on doing 40 MPH.  The temperature keeps on falling.  When we reach the intersection of Pinto Basin road and Park blvd, I can't stand it any more.  Even with my fleece pullover and fleece pants, I'm freezing to death.  I have to admit this is the one time when having a canvas suit doesn't help at all.  Too much wind is getting pass the outer shell.  I pull over to add the Gore-tex liner and put on the heavy Buff.  My torso and legs are now doing a little better but even with the heated grips cranked on high, the hands are still having a bit of an issue.  50 degrees at 50 MPH yields something like 25 degrees equivalence because of the wind chill.  Man it's cold!  In additional to all that, we haven't eaten anything since this morning and it's already 3:30pm.  Unlike Death Valley, there are no restaurants or resorts in Joshua Tree National Park.  As I think of it, I don't think the ranger station we checked in had any food.  Perhaps some candy bars and the like but nothing with real substance.

We reach the Jumbo Rocks campground area.  We're both tired but the sight is interesting enough to make us stop.  From this parking lot, there is a good view of the valley below.  It's still freakin' cold.  At least we're warming up due to a lack of wind chill and the sun is shinning right on us.

There are suppose to be caves around here where nomadic people use to live.  When asked if he wants to go see, Minh replied, "I'm too tired."  That's a first.  Then again, it's probably due to the lack of food.  I have to remember to bring at least two MREs on the next trip.  That way we will always have food.

It feels like forever but we only have about 10 more miles to go before reaching the north entrance.  It's probably due to the cold weather and the fact that we're only allowed to drive 45 MPH.  There it is.  We're at the north entrance.  The ranger that is suppose to verify we paid to get in didn't even bother to glance in our direction.  Minh would have been fine without the receipt.  No matter, at least we're finished with Joshua Tree.  However, it's not over yet.  The car that refused to take the turn offs to let us pass is still in front of us.  Regardless of the fact that this lady doesn't know how to negotiate turns at moderate speeds, she refuses to let us get by.

When we reached the north entrance I did a stupid thing.  I removed my breath guard to let more air through my helmet because it's getting a little warmer.  That was a bad idea.  While we're heading down to lower lands from Joshua Tree, an instant dust devil formed to the right of me.  It charged right next to the car in front of me but missed.  I, on the other hand, went right through it.  What I got was a nice sand blasting at 50 MPH.  I instinctively turned my head but it was too late.  If it was water, it would have just sting a bit.  In this case, it was like getting pimp slapped with 300 grit sand paper.  Ow!  That hurts!  Damage done.  I just dealt with it and promised to myself not to take off the breath guard while in the desert on future trips.

There you have it.  The 62 HWY and Joshua Tree the town.  First order of business, let's find a place to eat.  I try to do a search with the nav but Minh has already spotted something potentially good.  There is a little Mexican restaurant across the street and it looks to be a ma and pa shop.  Good enough for me.  I don't much care at this point.  We head on over and went in.  It turned out to be a fast food place but it looks authentic enough.  Everything looks good on the menu.  In the end I went for the two fish taco meal.  I don't normally eat fish tacos because most of the places make it does such a poor job.  It's not the case here.  They are positively the two best dish tacos I've ever eaten.  Perhaps it's because I'm hungry.  On the other hand, I think they simply have really good food here.

After we tank up, we fill up the bikes and head out for the remaining stretch home.  Asked if he would do this ride again Minh said, without hesitation, "No."  I can tell my R12R is really struggling to at high speeds because of the session through the sand storm.  This baby desperately needs a new air filter.  Now let's hope the wind won't be so bad on the way home.

By the time we reach Redlands any thought of a normal ride home has long left my mind.  The wind was gusting so badly that we're once again being tossed.  What's worse is the fact that there are cars on either side of us.  We definitely don't want to low side and end up under some vehicles' wheels.  Not a good deal.

There is a glimmer of hope, in a way.  We eventually catch up to this one Volkswagen van.  Apparently we're not the only ones who are experiencing the effects of the strong winds.  This box of a vehicle is also being tossed around like a rag doll.  Since we're similar company, I decided to hang behind the van while trying to prevent the white knuckle syndrome that is starting to take effect.  This turned out to be a smart idea.  I started noticing that every time the Volkswagen drift left, I would do the same thing a couple of seconds later.  Check that out!  I have myself a wind gauge.  From here out I follow behind the van at a moderate distance.  When the van got slapped silly, I prep myself to also get slapped silly.  Knowing when the wind is going to hit really help me to stabilize the bike.  Cool!  Who would have thought.

This tailing business lasted for a good while until we passed him.  We had just pass the 15 junction so we're truly on the home stretch.  Montclair, Claremont, Pomona, and the 57 freeway.  I take the 57 north to go home while Minh continue on the 10.  A couple of quick waves and we split apart.

As I pass the 605 junction and pop out of the carpool lane to take my exit.  I checked my four and I'm clear to go into the fast lane.  When I check six again I see a van zoom up behind me.  I know I didn't cut him off because the lane was clear when I first checked.  This guy is nuts.  What does he want and what is he thinking.  After a short time he high beams me.  I'm not effected by the high beam and ignore it.  Yeah, he's nuts.  When I get close to my exit, I cross the freeway slowly to get off.  This nut is till tailing me and high beaming me.  At one point I lightly tap my breaks to get my tail light to flash.  It does nothing to this wacko.  He's still on my tail.  I don't know what this guy is hoping to do but I definitely feel the danger.  I refuse to argue with a 2 ton vehicle because I know he's going to win.  In the end he pulls up to me at a stop sign and decides I'm not the person he's looking for.  He turns right and takes off.  What was all that about?  I will never know and don't want to know what that weirdo's intention was.  Then it finally strikes me.  These people living in the city forget who they are and what they're here for.  The most insignificant things will trigger them to do the oddest of actions.  Was it road rage or was it simply curiosity?  Is it all that worth while for these idiots to chase after somebody because they can't control their increase in blood pressure?  The mere fact that these people don't think or want to think about their situation is all the reason to fear them.  Bottom line, city people are crazy.  I'm glad to say that even though I live in the city, I'm not a city person.  I'm still a farm boy at heart and will always be a farm boy no matter what.

The garage door opens.  At last I don't have to deal with any more crazy people.  About 15 minutes later a confirmation comes from the Captain that he is also home safe.  It was a good trip but I don't think we'll be heading back to Joshua Tree National Park any time soon.  Having been to Death Valley and other similar spots in the southern section of California, Joshua Tree is not all that interesting.  As for the Salton Sea, we might head back out there again.

Day 1 - Salton Sea [March 1, 2008]

Written on: March 3, 2008
Last modified: March 24, 2008